Scouting Clay Buchholz

The Tigers begin a two-game series with the Boston Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park. Here’s the scoop on Boston starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who takes the ball tonight to face Detroit.

You may remember Clay as the guy who threw a no-hitter in his second career start in September of 2007, but he didn’t really stick in the Boston rotation full-time until last season when he posted a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts.

So far this season, Buchholz has started eight games (45.2 innings) with a 3.94 ERA, but his DIPS numbers suggest that maybe he’s been a touch lucky (4.92 FIP, 4.40 xFIP, 4.53 tERA).

Buchholz’s repertoire includes a 92-93 MPH four-seam fastball that he throws roughly 51% of the time, an 80 MPH changeup (20%), a 90 MPH cut-fastball/slider* (17%), and a 77-MPH curveball (11%).

*I’m not sure if he’s actually throwing a cutter or a slider. This pitch was always classified as a slider (though it’s gained velocity over the years), until this season, when it’s been mostly called a slider. He could actually be throwing the pitch differently, or we could just be seeing some variation in the pitch f/x data.

Buchholz’s best swing and miss pitch is the changeup. Nearly 20% of the swings he induces with this pitch get nothing but air, but he doesn’t necessarily throw that pitch more often in strikeout situations. Here’s a graphical look at Clay’s pitch selection by count so far this season:

Buchholz has only made ‘quality starts’ in two of his eight games. Hopefully the Tigers can get to him early and often to avoid facing Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon in “must score” situations.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Detroit Tigers Sabermetrics

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